Nationals Baseball: Next Up : Brandon Phillips

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Next Up : Brandon Phillips

This year I'll split up my Xmas movie stuff from the baseball stuff. That way it's easier for those that want to skip, to do so. Anything for you guys. I'll post movies in the afternoon.

The Nats are rumored to be interested in Brandon Phillips. He's a Red that played under Dusty. Those things might be related in one way (Dusty wants guys he knows) or another (media will just assume any Red who played under Dusty has the interest of the Nats) but it's out there. Do the Nats want him?

Yes - Phillips might be aging but he's still consistently provides close to average offense. In the past three years he's put up a .274 / .315 / .389 line, with a .704 OPS and hasn't really wavered. Danny Espinosa, who is pencilled in right now, has put up a .217 / .279 / .361 line (.640 OPS) and is a year removed from awful and two years removed from "shouldn't he be selling cars?" Brandon also doesn't strike out often, basically doing it half as often as Espinosa does.

No - But if Danny is "back to normal" (assuming last year in total was "normal") then he should provide virtually the same offense as Phillips.  Danny .719 OPS last year, Phillips .723.  Yes Danny will strikeout but that's part of his game. Other parts of his game are patience and power. Phillips' power is dying and he's not patient at all.  Brandon's more of a singles guy and gets more of his value through batting average.  Given a choice I like a guy who can work a bad pitcher into a walk or send a bad pitch over the fence than Singly Joes.

Yes - But Brandon Phillips is more than offense - he's defense too. He had been one of the best second basemen in the game in the last 00s and he's still a solid defender at the keystone.

No - But Danny is probably better there. Not much mind you but he probably had a better year there last year (defensive stats... you know how it is) and he's six years younger. Solid money is on Danny giving you better defense.

Yes - But will Danny play? Phillips is an extremely healthy guy. He's played 141 games or more 9 times in the last 10 seasons. One of the things the Nats lost with Desmond was stability. If you get Phillips you can feel pretty good about plugging him in and expecting him to start as long as you need/want him to. Espinosa hasn't played a full season in the majors since 2012.

No - But that one off season was 2014 and Phillips will be 35 (a young 35, but still) next year. At that age you start moving into the "they are old, they can get injured at any moment" part of their career. It's not that big an advantage.

Yes - But Phillips also gives you speed. 23 SBs last year (to only 3 CS). Danny, despite being over half a decade younger hasn't approached that since 2012.

No - But that's a product of the team. Nats were 14th in the NL in stolen bases last year and they aren't particularly a slow team. Danny might be able to steal more bases. We won't know until (if?)  Dusty unleashes the team

Yes - But Brandon is a proven veteran. The Nats lost two long time Nationals last year, includin Desmond, who was seen as a quiet clubhouse leader. They need to replace that dynamic.

No - But do they? It's not like that type of leadership kept this team playing at it's highest level.  Plus no one is saying Brandon is that type of guy. In fact, he seems to most as overly sensitive about how he is perceived outside the clubhouse causing him to be very sensitive about media matters.

Yes - But Dusty will control that. That's what he does.

No - But that, "overly sensitive to how he's perceived, very sensitive about media" is also who Dusty is. It may work but it may also help foster the paranoid "us vs everyone - fans, media, ownership" clubhouse attitude some of us fear Dusty can bring. Also Brandon Phillips also makes a ton of money. 13 Million next year. 14 million after that. It's not a long commitment but it is a pricey for a guy that's being argued as whether he's better for the team than Danny Espinosa (who will make around 3 Mill this year)


I don't want Brandon Phillips because I don't want his contract. I think he's a slightly better bet to be decent than Danny. Brandon is consistent. Danny has not been. But I think you can get more improvement to the team spending that 13 million somewhere else. As for any attitude thing? Eh. I always prefer to judge a player when he gets where he's going. Sometime a change of location does wonders. New clubhouse, new city, Dusty at the helm? I'd at least give him a few months to see. But really I wouldn't because like I said - I don't want to pay him.

Now if it's the only way to dump Papelbon or Storen and get something worthwhile back? Ok. I can deal with that. But that's not what we've heard so far. We've heard prospects. In the end, I can't believe that this is the best deal out there for the Nats.


Zimmerman11 said...

Wouldn't Phillips AND Espinosa be playing, since Escobar was shipped off? Or are we penciling in Difo? I thought the plan was for Turner to start the year in AAA. Rendon, Espinosa, Phillips, Zman...

Now we just need to get Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore back to reverse the curse of Colon!

Anonymous said...

Get Philliips and start him and Espinosa in the middle infield for two months. But make sure Dusty bats Phillips no higher than 6th in the lineup.

Then, trade for your lefty outfielder - Reddick, Blackmon, whoever.

All that would be left would be dumping Storepplebon and picking up a closer.

Anonymous said...

Agree with this Harper. Given his contract, Phillips should have almost zero trade value. If this is an exchange for assets with limited/zero value (i.e., Phillips for Papelbon), then that's fine. But Phillips at $13/$14 million aint worth much.

Zimmerman11 said...

Phillips at 13/14M ain't improving the team by 13/14M, but he is definitely decreasing the variance on next year's outcomes. I'd love it it if Paps were going to CIN in this deal, but I'm also good with BP comin' over to make our bench deeper. I want to see Turner and Difo succeed, but I also want to be able to compete for the NL East if they don't.

Harper said...

Z11 - I'm pencilling in Turner as soon as his FA clock for 2016 passes the "this year doesn't count" date.

I would be fine with Lee and Sizemore on minor league deals. Why the hell not? Sounds like fun! Hell, sign Colon, too!

If the Nats have more $ to spend though - you are right. BP would make team better overall.

Anon @ 8:09 - Your assumption is that neither plays themself out of a job in two months. Given the small sample and history I totally can see Danny hitting .185 and burning this plan up.

Anon @ 8:23 - Yes - I'm basically fine with any Papelbon / Storen dump. I'd rather get nothing back and have that money to play around with but the Nats need another MI so if this is all they can do it at least serves a purpose.

sirc said...

I want Danny playing shortstop. Whether that means Difo, Turner or trading for Phillips to man second base doesn't impact that opinion. What does impact things would be the trade for Phillips means second is no longer an option for Danny, and he will then almost certainly be playing short where he belongs.

Phillips at second, Danny at ss, Rendon at third and Ryan at first would be the best infield the Nats have ever fielded by miles. That's exciting to me.

SM said...

You forgot Lee Stevens. Sign him, too.

Zimmerman11 said...

sirc - i view tim drew for lee stevens as a separate trade. and looking back on it now, we did get Jeff Liefer, Rocky Biddle, and Orlando Hernandez back for Colon that offseason :)

Zimmerman11 said...

I will now be posting under the alias "Rocky Biddle's Sideburns" if anyone wonders where Z11 went :)

Rocky Biddle's Sideburns

SM said...


That Stevens came over with Colon in that trade is neither here nor there.

From the seething fans' perspective, the real upshot was that the squid-like Loria wasn't hauled away to a Federal penitentiary in belly chains.

SM said...

Stevens to Cleveland, that is. Tim Drew accompanied Big Boy Bartolo to Montreal.

I think there's a potential four-hankie Christmas weepie there somewhere, but with no happy ending.

Rob said...

Well, BP is pretty active on twitter so he has that going for him. lol

DezoPenguin said...

Yeah, I agree, this just isn't worth...anything. Not only is expected-Phillips pretty much a wash against expected-Espinosa, the risk of his age-related decline is at least similar to the risk of Espi backsliding into 2014. Plus there's the added risk of Baker batting him fourth like he did in Cincy because Phillips is an "RBI guy" or some such nonsense.

Really, there's no reason to make a move like this unless management is absolutely committed to Turner starting in the minors and Difo not being ready to play regularly. It's one thing if the Reds would take Papelbon for him straight-up (similar contracts per year) because they're committed to trading Chapman and want a closer or something, but giving up actual prospects in order to bring in a guy who's no better than the guy the team already has and who costs a lot more makes no sense at all. It's the kind of move that presses all my "Oh, God, we're becoming Arizona East!!!" panic buttons, so I'm praying it's just one of those hot stove rumors born out of Rizzo doing his due diligence ("Hey, you want to give me a competent-if-overpaid middle infielder for peanuts, or maybe a closer who managed to hit both definitions of choke in the same game?") and a bored press turned it into "serious talks."

blovy8 said...

The reason to do it is to have a better bullpen and a better 2B than Escobar and the status quo was going to be, given the determination to keep Rendon at 3rd. The tried to spend their money on other targets, but their price wasn't met or at least or they couldn't match Maddon managing or something. Kendrick wouldn't have been bad, but he's like a more expensive, younger Phillips who steals less and you'd lose a pick. You would also lose a pick and a lot of defense if you went with Murphy, though I suppose that would be ok to get the LH bat, IMO. Maybe those two are a little better hitters, but who says they'd sign here without the $$, and you're stuck with them longer than two years, so Phillips lines up better if you think Difo can play. He'd still benefit from a full AA/AAA year to prove he can hit advanced stuff. I think Turner is ready, but there's clearly a super-2 reasoning that's defensible if Espinosa can hit at least .230. It'll be nicer for the folks sitting near the 1st base dugout in April in any case.

Anonymous said...

Phillips isn't bad. He's definitely better than Yunel - the two are comparable hitters (although Phillips has more power, at least historically), but Phillips is a much better glove and a MUCH better baserunner. I like the way blovy8 lays out the alternatives and why Phillips may be a good choice.

The problem is that he's fairly paid (or slightly overpaid), meaning that he's just not worth very much if you're trading for him. So the real issues are (1) what are we giving up (I expect young/long shot org guys) and (2) what does this do to payroll? If trading for Phillips keeps us from pursuing a LH OF (Gordon!), then it's a bad move, IMO. Otherwise, it seems like a prudent move.